California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on has sued the Trump administration, arguing that its rollback of an Affordable Care Act requirement for employers to provide contraceptive coverage to workers is unconstitutional and unlawfully targets women.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes hours after the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday issued a rule change that allows more employers to opt out of the ACA birth control mandate by claiming religious or moral objections.
Prior to this rule change, only houses of worship, religiously affiliated nonprofits and some private companies with few shareholders, such as Hobby Lobby, could opt out of providing birth control coverage by seeking what’s known as an “accommodation” — a workaround in which the health insurance company rather than the employer pays for the contraception, but women still get access to birth control.
Now, those employers can go a step further in restricting birth control coverage by seeking an all-out exemption.
The new rule also allows publicly traded companies and all nonprofits and universities to take an exemption.
The issue is mostly a headline grabber with very little substance. Only about 10 percent of large nonprofits with more than 1,000 employees — mostly faith-based hospital systems and universities — sought the religious accommodation in 2015, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.